Oh the wonders of modern technology! You can WebMD medical symptoms and get a myriad of possibly fatal diagnoses, instantly connect with friends miles and miles away, and see photos of your soon-to-be-born child’s classmate/best friend/arch rival Blue Ivy Carter days after her birth. And thanks to sites like Google and IMDB, no trivial or hypothetical question ever goes unanswered. Thank goodness you can find out what else that actor has been in without having to dig in the recesses of your mind to find it. Turns out it the Allstate commercial guy was actually in a few episodes of Sex and the City. And his name is Dean Winters. Who knew?
For all the good these fabulous technologies have granted, there are certainly things that suffer. The fleecing of the English language through acronyms, text type and the LOL BRB BS, the unfortunate ability to exchange real relationships with real friends for a Facebook counterfeit, the addiction to instant gratification and multitasking, and the inability to use a proper folding map and total reliance on gmaps and that lady on my phone who tells me where to turn. (That last one might apply to only me.) Those are the BIG losses to self and society, but I have recently discovered that the internet has created a minor but no less irritating little tick of a habit that I’m not too proud of. I have become guilty of overusing and abusing the exclamation point.
Growing up I was not really an exclamation point girl. Exclamation! point! girls! were the same ones who–beyond 3rd grade–played with plastic horses, put hearts over there lowercase i’s and j’s, and freaked out if they got any dirt on there pearly white Keds sneakers. They were girls that used the word sneakers.
But little by little, since the advent of the internet, email and text messages, I find myself using the (!) far more than I am comfortable with. And (cringe) I am even guilty of the occasional use of the emoticon.
The problem is that emails don’t communicate tone. They communicate monotone and flatly, which translates to curt and angry.
Not a bad first draft. The first section needs a little reworking. I hope to see the next draft by Friday.
Not a bad first draft! The first section needs a little reworking. I hope to see the next draft by Friday
I know I would rather receive the second version. But something in me cringes as I litter my letters with such silliness and forced enthusiasm.
And take a moment to think about the word “sure” used in response to the text, “Can I borrow your dress this weekend?”
Sure! means one thing (“I’d love for you to borrow it! No dry-cleaning necessary.” “Borrow it? No, silly! You can keep it!”)—and Sure. means quite another (“If you absolutely have to.” “I guess so.” “Fine.” “I was planning to wear it on Saturday but whatever.” “Buy your own damn dress.”)
See what I mean?
Yesterday I surprised myself with a little exclamation point audit. I went through the day’s emails, Facebook comments and text messages and counted 27(!)s and 4 s. In the interest of full transparency, there were even a few uses of the double!! and the triple!!!
I’m embarrassed exclamation point. The only remedy I see is a font that communicates positive tone and perhaps a font that implies sarcasm. Until then, I have no choice but to keep peppering my prose with peppy punctuation. If I don’t, chances are I’ll come across as just plain mean. Frowny face.